Today, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, many of us were surprised and saddened by the news that comedian Norm MacDonald had passed away "after a long and private battle with cancer.” MacDonald reportedly kept his diagnosis quiet from many family and friends, as well. MacDonald was best known as a player on Saturday Night Live, as a frequent talk show guest on Late Night with David Letterman and Conan O’Brien. Norm was 61-year-old.
The first time I saw Norm MacDonald tell a joke it was during an old standup routine where he wondered about strange sports like cliff diving and how one might be able to judge them. “There are only a couple of different levels in cliff diving: Grand champion and then … stuff on a rock.” It’ll be down below for you to watch if you like. MacDonald stayed away from politics most of the time but would occasionally lean conservative. MacDonald was loved by many and considered by some to be the greatest post-Letterman standup comedian. His dry delivery, his ability to lean into the absurdity of audience expectations, and most importantly the kindness of his delivery, made for a concoction hard to replicate. It was the latter warmth that MacDonald was able to exude that endeared him to many.
Reactions poured out at the news from all across the internet.
Here’s Norm being his best by going against the grain.
Fellow Canuck Dave Foley.
An iconic scene.
One of the classics.
And some memories of what made Norm so lovable.
The first time I saw Norm MacDonald do standup.
And here’s a little something about the news.
And because we can cry even when we are celebrating someone, watching MacDonald’s last appearance on David Letterman’s show will give an insight into the heart that made us love Norm MacDonald.
Finally, Norm MacDonald wrote a half-real, half-fake memoir, Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir. The last chapter begins like this:
There is the way things are and then the way things appear, and it is the way things appear, even when false, that is often the truest. If I am remembered, it will always be by the four years I spent at Saturday Night Live and, maybe even more than that, by the events surrounding my departure from that show. As long as SNL exists, then so do I.
Read the final pages below.